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Vital Information - Global Beat  CD (album) cover


Vital Information


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.85 | 4 ratings

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4 stars Fusion On The Beach!

With two fired up fusion jazz salvos ( Vital Information, 1983 & Orion, 1984 ) already under their belts Steve Smith's Vital Information kick their feet up and loosen themselves into a more laid back groove on "Global Beat" and introduce world beat components and the result is one of the most pleasurable jazz albums to appear in the 80s. Many jazz and rock musicians from Miles to Paul Simon had been dabbling in this sort of thing for years and there is nothing really revolutionary to be heard here. But what makes Vital Information's run at the ethno theme so impressive is it's diversity in styles and approach. Not only does it take the listener on a virtual rhythmical sojourn around the world, making stops in such far away places as Trinidad, Thailand and points in between, it also explores local melodies, harmonies and syncopations which create a truly dynamic and vibrant work. The addition of keyboard maestro Tom Coster to the Vital Information roster takes the group even further away from the rock realm into a more jazz rooted fusion concept. Coster does for Vital information what he did for Santana in the seventies on albums like "Caravenseri", "Borloletta" and "Moonflower" while Smith's driving instructive drumming remains as crafty as ever never losing that rock back beat which gives Vital Information it's distinctive added punch.

A grooving post-bop rave up " One Flight Up" breaks the ice followed by " Island Holiday " whose joyous reggae beat conjures up images of pina coladas, women in grass skirts and sandy beaches, a fitting prelude to this hedonistic collage of good time vibes. Those familiar with the two previous Vital Information blowouts need not worry because there are still plenty of crazy solos from saxman Dave Wiczewski who seems to join in at every turn on tenor, alto & soprano. Dean Brown's guitar acquires a more rhythmic attitude but flows well with the metrics. Tim Landers ( some might also know him from the more recent Crimson Jazz Trio ) delivers again with his lyrical bass lines and contributes on " In A Low Voice" which is based on a tuneful fretless bass melody. The overall good time feel notwithstanding, a considerable amount of musical depth is achieved here without becoming too profound and whenever this starts happening everthing is always miraclously brought up to speed, whether with Smith's well thought out syncopations or a Coster keyboard solo jumping out you. One of the most satisfying pieces in this respect is the intricate "Traditions In Transition" ( try saying that fast 10 times! ) that opens up with a pretty keyboard melody that transmorgrifies into an straight up jazz-rock set piece . But it is tracks such as "Johnny Cat " with it's ostensible reggae beat, "Jave & Nail" with a steel drum accompaniment and the Brazilian flavoured " Black Eybrows " typify the atmosphere on Global Beat with Smith even paying hommage to his San Fransico suburb hometown on "Novato". Further authentication is provided by a host of guest pecussion musicians with names like Kwaku Daddy and Prince Joni Haastrup. Guitar veterans Ray Gomez and Mike Stern make appearances as well, the latter dropping in to lay down a smoking solo on the killer closer " Blues To Bappe I ".

You don't have to be an afficionado by any stretch to enjoy the cool breezy grooves on Global Beat. Although it is not as overpowering as previous Vital Information blowouts, the technical facility remains beyond reproach and along with "Faifaga", "Global Beat" is certainly one of the more exoteric Vital Information recordings to date. Without a doubt an album that lives up to it's title and dreamy cover art that will hold appeal for both a casual and more diserning audience. For those who are so equipped, it is available in glorious the DTS 5.1 Surround Sound format in order for more party effect.

Vibrationbaby | 4/5 |


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